The Minnesota Vikings could have a draft day steal in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the 32nd and final pick of the first round in the 2014 draft who is splitting reps with the first team at training camp with projected opening day starter Matt Cassel.
A bad pro day had most forgetting he completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,970 yards and 31 touchdowns as a junior at Louisville. Plus, he averaged the fourth highest adjusted yards per attempt (8.9) among NCAA QBs with at least 1,000 passing attempts from 2011 to 2013.
The Vikings new offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, was the catalyst in Cleveland’s league-leading 42.6 pass attempts per game in 2013 and runs a system which is almost tailor-made for Bridgewater’s ability to complete a high volume of short and intermediate passes.
Greg Pishek of Rotoworld analyzed the types of throws Bridgewater made in college, which included half his intended targets within 10 yards of scrimmage.
“This is the number one thing with him,” Turner said. “He’s got such a quick release, and he makes quick decisions. That ball is out before the tight end makes his cut, and it’s thrown where only he can catch it.”
Bridgewater’s completion percentage was also “excellent throwing the short ball.” The chart below represents each quarterback’s accuracy in the individual target zones when adjusting for drops by their receivers. The colors represent how that accuracy compares to the ‘average quarterback’, green is better than average, yellow average, red is below-average.
This matches up well with Cordarrelle Patterson, who had 72 targets last year for Minnesota, his first in the NFL. On passes to the right side of the field within nine yards, Patterson caught seven out of nine passes for 40 yards and a touchdown (119.4 passer rating), while on the left side went 2 for 4 with 12 yards and a touchdown (95.8 passer rating). On passes behind the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field: 13 for 13 for a 104.8 passer rating.
And Bridgewater also completed 63 percent of his passes under pressure and 77 percent when faced with the blitz at Louisville, which will help transition to the faster, stronger pace of the NFL.
“I think he probably should’ve gone in the first 10 picks,” Turner said. “He probably should’ve gone at least in the first half of the first round, and then we’re sitting there with an opportunity to get him when we did, it was a bonus to me.”
“It’s good to know that your coach thinks that highly of you,” Bridgewater said. “But for me, I still have to just go out and prove my worth. That’s something I’ve been learning since training camp started. This is a job. It’s no longer a game.”